Wednesday, July 10, 2024

On 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, an empty lot and lots of questions about what's next

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

Rumors are circulating that Gemini Rosemont will proceed with the development company's original plans to build an 11-story mixed-use building on the vacant NE corner of Second Avenue and Second Street.

In 2020, Gemini Rosemont spent more than $50 million to assemble the development ... buying the former La Salle annex at 38 Second Ave. and Second Street. The $14.5 million purchase of the four-story building was the third of three contiguous plots they acquired. The commercial real estate investment company closed on 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave. (the former Church of the Nativity) in March 2020 for $40 million. 

However, as The Real Deal first reported last August, the city revoked the building permits after Robert Proto, who owns 50 Second Ave. at Third Street, raised concerns about the development. Per TRD: "Proto made unceasing calls to officials for weeks, triggering an audit by the Department of Buildings that found code and zoning issues that had initially slipped past the agency." 

The property hit the sales market last fall and is no longer available. Sources told us there weren't any takers. We contacted a Gemini Rosemont spokesperson for comment and will update you if they respond.

Proto recently provided EVG with a tour of the building he co-owns with his wife. His son and his son's girlfriend live in the building now. While Robert Proto and his wife live in New Jersey now, they have their office at No. 50. 

Surveying the rubble-strewn property next door, which previously housed the Church of the Nativity and LaSalle Annex, Proto said he "doesn't like a vacant lot" and that his building, which is now "covered in graffiti," isn't protected from vandals enough.
Proto has owned the landmarked 1899 Renaissance Revival-style tenement for 12 years and has maintained its pre-war charms.
Proto has been a vocal opponent of the mega-developer. As detailed in the TRD article, the adjacent construction site posed a significant risk of undermining his 10-unit building. 

This led to a legal battle with Gemini (the litigation continues), as the company needed a permit to drill through his basement to check the depth of the footings. Proto emphasized the need for "access agreements with all the surrounding buildings in order to build on the site."
"It's paramount to me to protect my tenants," Proto said, noting that "the status quo helps no one."


j said...

Proto is our local hero. If he was able to stop this development just in the very early permitting stage I can imagine what real estate developers get away with .

Carol from East 5th Street said...

David vs Goliath. Robert Proto may your success continue!

Idan said...

NYC has been about development since its inception. Seeing the comments here just makes me sad.

I'm the last one who would like to see an ugly development rise on my block, but I also don't want to see an empty chain-link fenced lot full of trash and graffiti.

We could not save the old buildings and church from bulldozers, so let's try working with a developer to attract more businesses and people to our neighborhood.

NIMBYISM serves no one. Let's make the East Village vibrant, preserving what we can and supporting the redevelopment of what we can't.

Mh said...

Fine if you can trust developers to not undermine adjacent buildings and putting families out on the street as what happened at 14th and D.

But you can't.

Glamma said...

excuse me while I throw up ten times after reading this comment. you think dumb yuppies make the East Village vibrant? gonna go puke some more.

jordi torrent said...

Let's make a public park of this corner. This would be wonderful. But I'm afraid they have other, less ethical, plans for the lot.